Telecom Timeout

A blog

August 21, 2009  2:14 PM

Motorola’s LTE win: A reversal of fortune?

Posted by: KateGerwig
CDMA, Ericsson, LTE, Motorola

Motorola’s financial struggles have been much more public than its LTE wireless broadband capabilities of late, but its first public LTE win may help reverse the headlines if handled well.

KDDI Corp., Japan’s second-largest wireless operator, chose Motorola’s Home & Network Mobility unit to be a key development partner for its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. The win gives Motorola’s LTE capabilities more credibility when going up against other LTE vendors, including Ericsson, which recently won the bid for Nortel’s LTE assets.

The Motorola contract may be larger than $1 billion, according to analyst reports, although KDDI previously announced it could spend about $5.3 billion for a nationwide LTE network. Questions are floating about whether Motorola’s win is tied to a low pricing strategy. Japan’s NEC also won a KDDI contract to supply LTE equipment. KDDI launched its CDMA network with Motorola as its primary vendor, so Motorola has traction with the provider.

Motorola’s role is to implement the basic LTE infrastructure and base stations. KDDI hopes to launch its LTE service by December 2012, which still puts it in a trailing second place to NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest wireless operator that plans to launch LTE service a full two years earlier, at the end of 2010.

Motorola is also conducting LTE trials with China Mobile Ltd.

August 4, 2009  5:17 PM

Self-organizing networks: To LTE and beyond…

Posted by: KateGerwig
LTE, OSS/BSS, self-organizing networks

The “self-organizing network” sounds like the stuff of science fiction, or at least the futuristic utopia of The Jetsons. Just the sound of it makes me think of conveniences I would enjoy: self-organizing closets, self-organizing garages, self-organizing remote controls.

In their 2062 setting, George and Jane Jetson lived lives of incredible leisure because of their labor saving devices. Yet the concept of self-organizing networks is already being discussed as a key technology requirement for LTE networks.

The self-organized Jetsonian concept would vastly reduce network operations costs by automating process to handle high-volume, low-cost services efficiently, possibly separating OSS from BSS forever.

But why should self-organizing networks be limited to 4G? In this week’s featured article, CIMI Corp. President Tom Nolle – Jetsonesque in his futuristic visions – ponders extending the concept of self-organizing networks beyond LTE.

Read it. It will expand your mind.

August 4, 2009  3:07 PM

RIM’s Nortel interest adds more drama to ‘final’ bid

Posted by: KateGerwig
BlackBerry, CDMA, LTE, Mobile, Nortel, RIM, wireless broadband

Why on earth would RIM want Nortel? That was the question on everyone’s minds after the handset manufacturer announced it had not only tried to enter bidding for the distressed Nortel’s LTE and CDMA assets, but had been “prevented” from fairly competing for those assets due to bidding restrictions.

And while Ericsson eventually emerged victorious in bidding, industry watchers were left scratching their heads, and legislators seem to at least be considering the merits of RIM’s complaint. What if the Waterloo-based BlackBerry maker was successful in a re-auction and it won?

The company has given little indication of why they are so intent on the Nortel wireless assets, beyond the stated desire to keep Nortel Canadian, but RIM does have experience in building out some infrastructure in order to power its central NOC. Perhaps the company has seen infrastructure as a critical competitive asset, and one that will further separate it from the pack just as its e-mail advantage has in the past. Another theory is that RIM is trying to jump on the LTE bandwagon early, and it sees the Nortel opportunity as the perfect way to jump past its competitors in this area.

Whatever the motivation, with Canadian national pride and billions of dollars in local jobs at stake, the supposedly final Ericsson purchase might not be so final after all.

August 3, 2009  5:01 PM

Summer reading: The physics of fiber in optical networks

Posted by: KateGerwig
fiber optics, optics, Telecom

Seismic shifts are going on in the telecom industry, so there’s no “lazy days of summer” form factor. In fact, carriers and vendors are powering straight on through to a fall that promises strategy shifts, partner realignment and M&A activity.

To honor the tone of the industry, our featured beach reading is a chapter download about fiber, which is both good for you and filled with light. The author of Opitcal Fibers from The Cable and Telecommunications Handbook, Volume 2, Third Edition, (Focal Press, 2008), says the structure of fiber optic cable is simple: a glass core and cladding around it. Easy. From there, he goes into refractive indices and pages of formulas for a thorough review on how to get the most out of your fiber.

Getup to speed on light speed by downloading the chapter, and to complete the course, have a look at these guides:

July 28, 2009  3:02 PM

Telecom Timeout: The App Store Agenda

Posted by: WPeterson
Apple, applications, BlackBerry, Verizon

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In this video, I speak with Lewis Ward, IDC research manager, and Arvin Chander, with Qualcomm, about the future of mobile app stores and what they mean for carriers. Is the Apple iTunes model destined for the future, giving carriers only a slim cut of revenue? Or is there are brighter future for wireless carriers? Watch the video to hear why Ward predicts carriers will eventually only get a 10% cut of this growing market.

July 23, 2009  3:50 PM

Breaking: Ericsson bids $730mm for Nortel’s CDMA, LTE assets

Posted by: WPeterson
4G, Ericsson, LTE, Nokia Siemens, Nortel, NSN, Verizon

Ericsson has finally entered the Nortel fray, announcing their starting bid at $730 million for bankrupt vendor’s LTE and CDMA asset a day before the official auction is held. It will now be (at least) a three-horse race between Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), private equity firm MatlinPatterson and Ericsson. While MatlinPatterson will likely bow out early, both equipment vendors have a lot to gain, particularly as they try to position themselves to win Verizon’s lucrative LTE business.

“There’s synergies, there’s scale, and both of them are part of the Verizon network to move to LTE,” said Akshay Sharma, research director at Gartner. He said both companies would benefit from being able to offer Verizon a smoother upgrade path to LTE, which could win some business from Alcatel-Lucent which already has as a strong advantage when it comes to LTE deployments.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Ericsson could be quite serious about capturing that advantage. “We are pursuing the deal because it seems to be an interesting opportunity and we are always looking for ways to create value for Ericsson,” the paper quoted a Ericsson statement, adding “we will pursue this opportunity to the point it makes sense.”

Further Reading:

July 16, 2009  9:31 PM

Sen. Franken grills Judge Sotomayor on Net Neutrality

Posted by: WPeterson
Congress, net neutrality

“Isn’t there a compelling, over-riding First Amendment right here for Americans to have access to the Internet?”

That’s the question Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) posed to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, citing the increase of using the Internet as a primary, if not the primary, means of information sharing for more and more people ,and the fact that in many areas, there isn’t a whole lot of choice between service providers if one starts to constrict or even block traffic to and from certain websites.

Sotomayor’s response should bring at least a little relief to telecom operators: She said that such decisions aren’t for the court to rule on, but for the legislature to decide, and that the Brand X decision, which designated Internet service providers as “information services” rather than “telecommunication services” should stand.

Here’s the video:

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July 15, 2009  2:43 PM

Apple’s slice of the app store pie

Posted by: WPeterson
app store, Apple, AT&T, iPhone

Grandma's secret ingredients were always nutmeg, high ARPU, and lots of love.I’ve reported that wireless service providers aren’t seeing much direct app store revenue, so when I came across an article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal on Apple’s cut of the app store, I read with great interest.

According to Sanford Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi, Apple’s 30% commission could net them $150 million this year, the Journal reported. Not bad, but small potatoes compared to the $2.8 billion the iPhone’s hardware revenue earned in the 6 months to March. The Journal suggests that much of that latter revenue is indirectly derived from the app store, however, because the 50,000 apps iPhone offers provide a compelling advantage for many users over the 2,000 apps RIM’s BlackBerry App World offers, for example.

The figure that struck me the most, however, was R&D spending: RIM spent 6.2% of its 2008 revenue on R&D, with Microsoft, Palm, and Motorola each spending 12%-15% on R&D. Apple? Just 3.4%, yet they’re still hailed as the innovation leaders.

Looks like in Apple’s case you can have pie and eat it, too. Even better, it’s the third-party developers doing the baking.

Related Reading:

July 14, 2009  2:25 PM

Verizon marketing dumping DSL down the memory hole?

Posted by: WPeterson
Comcast, DSL, landline, Verizon

Big Brother is watching you Maybe it’s Verizon’s landline unions that should watch out: Shortly after writing this morning’s post on Verizon’s DSL vs. wireless debate, I caught up with DSLReports’ note that Verizon is deleting DSL mentions in marketing material. For the record, I think this is only about as ominous as when the cable companies renamed VoIP “Digital Voice” to escape the bad name (scratchy sound, dropped calls, lack of 911) it had received. OK, maybe the erasures are a bit Orwellian, but isn’t Big Brother just a part of big business?

The updated language does underline an important point, however: People don’t really care how they are connected so long as they are connected, and in a way that they feel is fast and consistent and fairly priced. In some markets, this might mean DSL; In others (large, population-rich urban environments), Verizon’s FiOS will be the standard; Others will be happy with microwave connectivity.

But if Verizon’s going to use this as excuse to charge FiOS-like rates for its broadband DSL package, they’re going to be doing themselves a serious disservice, ultimately hurting the FiOS brand more than anything as consumers vent to each other via word of mouth, online comments, and Twitter. That’s an advantage I’m sure the cable companies would love to seize, particularly as Comcast lashes out with a sharp responses to the cable creeper ads Verizon’s been running. See both below, and feel free to share your thoughts.

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July 13, 2009  4:49 PM

When Verizon’s copper and wireless collide

Posted by: WPeterson
landline, unions, Verizon, wireless

I hate to break out the old saw about the unstoppable force versus the immovable object, but it just seems too appropriate here. Verizon’s (landline) unions are pitching a fit at Verizon Wireless’ latest campaign in Massachusetts, which is urging customers to “cut the cord” by switching to an all-wireless plan, as the Boston Herald reports:

“The whole trend (for Verizon) is to dump anything to do with plain old phones,” said Paul Bouchard, a district representative for the Communications Workers of America.

Don Trementozzi, president of the Communications Workers of America Local 1400, disputed Verizon Wireless’ assertion that intended to target only non-Verizon customers.

“Even I got one of the fliers at home,” said Trementozzi, whose union represents about 1,000 Massachusetts Verizon workers. “The ad campaign is real crazy. It’s a big mistake.”

Verizon Wireless, which is 50% owned by Verizon with the other half being owned by Vodaphone, said mailers sent to cross-over customers (who have both Verizon Wireless and Verizon landline services) were accidental and limited, but the unions see something a bit more sinister: They note that Verizon is selling off their landline business in well over a dozen states, and that Verizon Wireless has many fewer unionized employees.

Don’t expect this battle to go away anytime soon, particularly as other players like Comcast and Time Warner get into the wireless game through Clearwire.

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